Remember those beautiful tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocus that were blooming in the spring? Believe it or not, now is the time to plant the bulbs for next spring’s bloom. You’ll be glad youTulips planted them. When those flowers emerge in the spring from their winter slumber, it is truly magical. Let me share with you a short history on tulip bulbs, and tell you about site, soil prep, selection (the fun part), planting and growing.

Tulip History
The original tulip was a wild flower growing in Central Asia. The Turks cultivated it or tamed it around 1000 AD. It was introduced to Western Europe and the Netherlands in the 17th century. Its name comes from the Turkish word for turban. A true status symbol planted in palace gardens.

It soon gained popularity as a trading product, especially in Holland. The interest in the flower was huge, and bulbs sold for unbelievably high prices. Some hybrids and mutations of the flower were seen as rare and a sign of upper status. In early 1637, there was a complete ‘Tulipmania” in the Netherlands, where many rare bulbs would cost more than the average cost of a house at the time. The early growers and traders made huge amounts of money. Everyone wanted in on the action, but then, oversupply and lower demand caused major bankruptcies. This “Tulip Crash” caused their government to introduce special trading restrictions on the flower.

Today, that’s all in the past, the popularity of the tulip is ever present. Bold colors, shapes and sizes, dramatic flares, parrot-types, bunching varieties make this wonderful treasure both affordable and hugely desirable.

Choosing Where to Plant Bulbs
Plant them in a highly visible bed where you, family and friends can see and enjoy them. Choose a spot with good sunlight and drainage so bulbs will not become waterlogged. Amend your soil with a well-decomposed compost or sphagnum peat moss, this will improve your soil texture, plus, help with aeration and drainage. Apply phosphorus fertilizer or bone meal at the time of planting so it is available to the roots. Tip: Plant a solid block of color because in bloom, it is truly impressive.

Spring BulbsSelecting Bulbs and Planting Bulbs
Pick the largest ones because there is a direct correlation between the size of the bulb and size of the flower. Avoid those that show evidence of mold or mechanical damage.
Check the blooming times on the bulb package; some will say, very early, early, mid or late. These will allow you to have a full spring and early summer of color.

In my area of Colorado, the best time to plant is September-October. Be sure to ask your local garden center about when the best time to plant is in your area.

Bulbs should be planted to a depth of three to four times the height of the bulbs. If your bulb is 2″, plant it around 6″ to 8″ deep. Plant with the growing tip up. Water well after planting and during dry times when there is no moisture during the winter months.

Caring for Bulbs in Winter and in Spring
After the ground freezes, add a few inches of mulch to prevent alternate freezing and thawing. During spring, remove flowers as they wither, but don’t be afraid to cut some and enjoy them in vases in the home.

Plant Pansies, too
A great addition to your bulb beds are pansies. Planted on the top of the bulb garden, it will remind you to give needed water in dry times and reward you with blossoms through the snow and winter. Many colors, shapes and sizes are available in fall. It seems the blues/purples and yellows are most hardy and prolific.

So, early this fall, plant these gems around your “palace” and smile to yourself for being so smart, knowing they’ll reward you next spring.

Happy Gardening!